Photos: Brelaun Douglas/DC Spotlight Newspaper
“Keri and I have the same heart when it comes to helping people and serving people. But we are different people. If he says its daylight, I say it’s night; it usually is night. I like traditional food. Keri likes traditional food and everything else, all other kinds of food. So we were at this fabulous event and he was the gentlemen that he is and he asked me to sit down and that he was going to go and get our plates. He comes back with one plate, all of our food on it: My food in the middle and all the different kinds of foods that he likes in one plate. And that is the first time we had the discussion about OnePlate,” says Cassandra “Cassi” Davis, the actress who appeared in Tyler Perry’s sitcom “House of Payne.”
OnePlate America is a nonprofit organization created by the actress, to inspire and enlighten youth across the country. “OnePlate America is an organization designed to bridge the cap between education and life experiences for youth nationwide,” said Davis at a ceremony for OnePlate on November 18 in Washington, D.C. “We will give them access, we will enhance their opportunities, and we will give them increased exposure to diverse experiences. We will bring the classroom to life.”
1. To expose young participants to new opportunities and ensure proper etiquette and the necessary social skills to appropriately conduct themselves.
2. Develop public speaking and writing skills to ensure that each participant can present their “best self” in any situation.
3. To collaborate with local governments and corporations who are mutually passionate about supporting the exposure of high school aged youth to new experiences.
4. Develop a strong sponsorship package for exemplary graduating participants.
5. Establish a strong alumni network dedicated to continuously supporting new participants.
“This is an opportunity about opportunity,” said Kim Fields — actress and friend of Davis’ for over 20 years – during the ceremony. “This is a time of gathering and sharing a vision.”
Cedric Richmond, the congressman from Louisiana, agreed, drawing on a memory from his childhood. “I like to just go back to what my grandmother said when I was small. She said ‘Cedric, life is really about what you give. Just make sure every day you do something for somebody else. When you see somebody that’s hungry try to give them some food.” He continued, “When you see somebody that’s sick, try to get them to a doctor. When you see somebody that’s homeless, try to get them some shelter. No matter how you want to give back, we have an obligation to do so.”
OnePlate America focuses on youth between the ages of 15-18, taking them through a four week series of seminars, guest speakers, and workshops in D.C.
“15, 16, 17, 18 — they have ideas,” said Davis. “They have desires, they have wants, and they have dreams. But sometimes they have lost their sense of discovery by the time they get to 15. They don’t know if they’re still teenagers or if they’re moving into adulthood. When they’re 15, all they can think about is their sweet 16 birthday party. When they’re 16, 17, all they can think about is driving, getting a license. When they get [to]18, they’re trying not to be alcoholics. They tell me this. I try to deter them from all of the negative things they want to encounter, and I’ve been successful,” she admits.
Davis sited her desire for this program because “she want[ed]to help a bunch of kids,” despite the fact that she herself does not want children of her own.
Before the beginning of the reception announcing the formation of the foundation, guests were given arm bands signifying the different age ranges. “Blue bands represent the 15 year olds and the start,” Davis explained. “Red is 16, because they’re fire and hot. Yellow is 17, because they really don’t know if they are children or getting ready to vote. And white is for 18, signifying graduation, promotion and purity.”